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Governor John Bel Edwards listens during a press conference to recognize the work of nurse Carla Brown, who has personally vaccinated over 2,000 Louisiana residents against COVID-19, Tuesday, August 17, 2021, at CareSouth Pediatrics in Baton Rouge, La.

Gov. John Bel Edwards reinforced the statewide indoor mask mandate during a press conference about Hurricane Ida and extended Louisiana's public health emergency declaration.

With the declaration set to expire next week and COVID cases slightly declining in recent weeks, the governor said residents must still be vigilant about masking up, social distancing and hand washing. 

"We have started to see some improvement in our data that literally started two weeks after the current mask mandate was put into place," Edwards said. "Even with these improvements, we are still much worse off than we ever were in our first three surges. None of the gains that we have made are irreversible."

Edwards also spoke about the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, saying that 100 percent of the cases were attributable to it. 

Over the past week, the state has seen COVID cases and hospitalization rates decrease by a total of 15 percent. 

"Our next public heath emergency will maintain the indoor mask mandate in public spaces for those vaccinated and unvaccinated," Edwards said. "It will be the exact same mandate that we currently have in place. We know that these mitigation measures work. We know that the vaccines are safe and effective."


Email Madelyn Cutrone at mcutrone@theadvocate.com or follow her on Twitter @madelyncutrone.